Hyejin Cho, Wonjun Choi and Hyunju Lee (2017) A method for named entity normalization in biomedical articles: application to diseases and plants. BMC Bioinformatics, 13 October 2017;18(1):451. (IF: 2.448) (JCR 2016: 10/57, 17.5%, MATHEMATICAL & COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY)

A method for named entity normalization in biomedical articles: application to diseases and plants.



Background: In biomedical articles, a named entity recognition (NER) technique that identifies entity names from texts is an important element for extracting biological knowledge from articles. After NER is applied to articles, the next step is to normalize the identified names into standard concepts (i.e., disease names are mapped to the National Library of Medicine’s Medical Subject Headings disease terms). In biomedical articles, many entity normalization methods rely on domain-specific dictionaries for resolving synonyms and abbreviations. However, the dictionaries are not comprehensive except for some entities such as genes. In recent years, biomedical articles have accumulated rapidly, and neural network-based algorithms that incorporate a large amount of unlabeled data have shown considerable success in several natural language processing problems.

Results: In this study, we propose an approach for normalizing biological entities, such as disease names and plant names, by using word embeddings to represent semantic spaces. For diseases, training data from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) disease corpus and unlabeled data from PubMed abstracts were used to construct word representations. For plants, a training corpus that we manually constructed and unlabeled PubMed abstracts were used to represent word vectors. We showed that the proposed approach performed better than the use of only the training corpus or only the unlabeled data and showed that the normalization accuracy was improved by using our model even when the dictionaries were not comprehensive. We obtained F-scores of 0.808 and 0.690 for normalizing the NCBI disease corpus and manually constructed plant corpus, respectively. We further evaluated our approach using a data set in the disease normalization task of the BioCreative V challenge. When only the disease corpus was used as a dictionary, our approach significantly outperformed the best system of the task.

Conclusions: The proposed approach shows robust performance for normalizing biological entities. The manually constructed plant corpus and the proposed model are available at http://gcancer.org/plant and http://gcancer.org/normalization, respectively.

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